Iran beat Morocco 1-0 in their opening Group B game in Saint Petersburg on Friday, as Aziz Bouhaddouz headed into his own net in stoppage time.
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Playing in their first World Cup game since 1998, Morocco started well but that early promise petered out as Iran dug deep, defended well and had chances on the break and they sealed their first World Cup win since 1998 thanks to a free kick from the left which Bouhaddouz headed into his own net in the 95th minute.
With Group B favorites Portugal and Spain clashing on Friday, Iran have now given themselves hope of advancing to the last 16 while Morocco’s World Cup dream is in ruins.
With Morocco not conceding a goal in its final round of qualifying for the World Cup, plus Iran keeping nine-straight clean sheets in their 10 qualifying games, a tight game was to be expected and that’s how it turned out.
Early on Morocco started well with Belhanda flashing a header over and Iran being pinned back into their own half.
Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand denied Medhi Benatia with a superb save after a deflection as the attacks kept on coming for Morocco.
Slowly but surely Iran grew into the game and they launched some dangerous counters which almost caught Morocco out. Right on half time Iran were denied after a break as Azmoun’s shot was saved well by Munir and then Morocco’s goalkeeper blocked Jahanbakhsh’s rebound.
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In the second half the temp of the game slowed down as both teams picked their moments to attack.
No real goalscoring opportunities arrived until late in the game as Morocco’s main playmaker Ziyech finally got a shot on goal but Beiranvand denied him with a smart save to his left.
The killer blow came in the 95th minute as Ehsan Haji Safi’s cross was nodded into his own net by Bouhaddouz.